Lenta.ru (one of the most popular Russian language online resources) journalist Yegor Polyakov, who along with another Lenta.ru journalist, Alexandra Miroshnikova, published anti-war material about «the dictator Putin who is leading Russia into the abyss» on their website's home page, told The Insider that they were mainly led by their conscience. Yegor noted that he and Alexandra were not in Russia. The Insider fully quotes Polyakov's response below.
What was it? Well, it's exactly what it looks like. It was not a «hack», it was a conscious decision Sasha and I made rather long ago, but it was impossible to implement it quickly, for reasons I am not yet ready to disclose.
We were mainly led by conscience. I understand that the Russian media space has long been divided into «handshake-ability» segments and Lenta isn't one of them, but I personally know a lot of good and decent people who work for non-handshakeable media outlets, so I encourage potential critics in professional and other environments to remember to be humane and not hang labels on everyone at once. I believe all opponents of the war need to unite now, regardless of their views.
As for the materials, it's simple. After the massive blockades, there is almost no media outlets left in the country that can be viewed without a VPN or Telegram doomscrolling. We have a huge audience, which I worked hard to achieve, so Sasha and I decided such a performance would be the only right thing to do. We selected about 40-45 key cases/news stories/facts that the Russian media had begun to suppress when the war broke out, presented them in great detail and tried not to resort to «counterpropaganda.»
Of course, we included a key message in the text, which turned out more like a column (which pisses me off personally), albeit with clear facts and arguments. We put our own signatures, I have already had a conversation, so I guess we can say we no longer work for Lenta.»
Lenta.ru editor-in-chief Vladimir Todorov told RIA Novosti there were no comments yet on the «hack situation».
Egor Polyakov joined Lenta.ru in October 2017, and since 2019 he served as head of the Economy and Home divisions. Prior to Lenta.ru, he worked at TASS, Gazeta.ru and FINAM Investment Company. Alexandra Miroshnikova worked as editor of the Economy and Home divisions.
On the morning of May 9, Yegor Polyakov reported that he and Alexandra Miroshnikova had published a material on Lenta's official website about Russian war crimes in Ukraine. The Insider also discovered that searches for the president's surname on the website lead to the headlines «Russia completely destroyed Mariupol» and «Vladimir Putin Lied About Russia's Plans in Ukraine». A Lenta.ru correspondent confirmed there was «panic» and «discussion of the search problem» in work chats.
Earlier today, owners of Smart TVs saw an anti-war message appear in the descriptions of TV channels and programs. «You have the blood of thousands of Ukrainians and hundreds of their murdered children on your hands. TV and the powers-that-be lie. No to War,» read the message that appeared on various Russian TV channels. Users of MTS TV, NTV-Plus, and Rostelecom, as well as owners of Winx media players, saw the message. According to one version, the hackers managed to hack built-in Smart TV media players.
After Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine, employees of Russian pro-Kremlin media who disagreed with the military censorship started quitting en masse. For example, on March 14, Marina Ovsyannikova, an employee of Channel One, burst into a live news show for a few seconds with a poster «Stop the War! Don't believe the propaganda, you are being deceived here». Earlier, she recorded a video message in which she condemned the actions of the Russian army in Ukraine. On March 15, the journalist was fined 30,000 rubles. In April, she joined Die Welt as a freelance correspondent.